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Catalan Fish Stew -- Zarzuela

I love the Catalan way of preparing food. If you follow the spirit of a dish like this -- traditional fish stew -- there is plenty of leeway to invent and adjust your ingredients.

The main point to it  is the marriage of the sausages, fish herbs, spices and...almonds. Use whatever fish you have.I've even substituted white with red wine!

No matter: it works.

Ingredients
6 tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
2 fennel bulbs, chopped
150g/5oz chorizo (or other spicy sausage), diced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
2 cloves new season garlic, crushed
½tsp sweet paprika powder
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp saffron strands (optional)
3 fresh bay leaves
1 tin plum tomatoes
100ml/3½ fl oz fish stock or water
150ml/5 fl oz white wine
500g/1 lb 2oz mussels, cleaned (or prawns or...just go with the fish fillets )
650g/1 lb 7 oz firm white fish (I use even cheap frozen supermarket fish ), filleted, dredged in flour and fried in olive oil
100g/3½ oz toasted almonds, ground
To serve
1 lemon, cut into wedges
steamed potatoes and spring greens
Preparation method
Heat the olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onions, fennel, diced chorizo, chilli, ground fennel seeds and garlic for a few minutes.
Add the paprika, thyme, saffron, bay leaves and tomatoes and cook until reduced to a thickish sauce.
Add the fish stock (or water) and white wine and bring to a simmer.
Add the cooked mussels and cook until they are all open. Discard any that have not opened.
Put the fish pieces into the stew and stir in the almonds.
Heat for a minute or two and serve with seasonal greens, steamed potatoes and wedges of lemon.

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